Animal control officers working at the Johnson County Animal Shelter have chased an escaped kangaroo down U.S. 31 on the southside of Greenwood.
They have also found a pet alligator swimming in a creek in Franklin and captured one in a retention pond in Greenwood. Officers deal with more routine animals regularly though — but far beyond the cats and dogs you might expect.
Most local residents know they can adopt cats and dogs from the Johnson County Animal Shelter. Shelter workers ready the stray cats and dogs for adoptions and are in charge of facilitating adoptions. Animal control workers also check on animals when there is an allegation of abuse or neglect or investigate animals when they have bitten a human.
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But Johnson County Animal Control also deals with animals kept as pets that are not native to the state or region, whether that is helping the owner locate the animal that has gotten loose or take control of the care of the animal if the pet owners was negligent in some way, animal control director Michael Delp said.
And when a pet owner takes on too much, animal control is usually left with the animal and must find a place for it to go, animal control employees said.
“That puts a huge burden on us to find them homes,” Delp said.
In the last 15 years or so, animals that have been in Johnson County have also included a peahen, a monkey, multiple large, exotic snakes, a bob cat and sugar gliders. Animal control workers are also adept at dealing with livestock, rabbits, hamsters, wolf and dog mixes and nearly weekly will take in at least one pig.
Animals besides cats and dogs come into the care of Johnson County Animal Control workers in a variety of ways. The renegade kangaroo was being fostered by a Greenwood family who had a license to foster the animal. One of the alligators escaped from a woman’s home who was known to rehabilitate sick alligators. The other was a pet, Delp said.
Indiana residents can own just about any animal they would like, although some of the most exotic animals require permits, he said.
However, different communities in the area keep different zoning laws and residents should check those laws before they get an animal that may be considered exotic. For example, residents are not allowed to keep chicken, pigs and other livestock within some city limits in the county, which is one of the main reasons livestock is turned over to animal control, Delp said.
Residents who want to get an animal that may be unknown to them is to take care and do the research and make sure they know what they are taking on. For example, the shelter will get an influx of rabbits after Easter when owners realize rabbits take more care than they could commit too, Delp said.
“I appreciate their hearts, but sometimes you have to think things through first,” he said.
Animals sometimes also grow larger than a pet owner expected, which then leads the owner to turn over the animal to animal control, Bethany Fulps, animal shelter manager, said.
“There really is no such thing as a micro tea cup pig, they will be 80 pounds, at least,” she said.
Pet owners also do not know how to care for some of the more exotic animals properly, which could lead them to turn over the animals to animal control for the animal’s health. They should also research veterinarians in the area to make sure the animal will have access to a veterinarian who can treat then animal successfully, said Cari Klotzsche, office manager for the Johnson County Animal Shelter.